Rustic Country Bread
This rustic country bread is the real deal. Whole wheat and rye contribute to the bread’s full flavor, and the extra oven time gives the loaf its thick, flavorful crust.
The secret to this beautiful country loaf is the wet dough it produces. Go into this wet dough world with vigor. Do not be weary. It may very well be the best bread you’ve ever eaten.
This Rustic Bread is one of the first bread recipes I made decades ago. It brought on my passion for baking Artisan bread. It is still, to this day, my all-time favorite because of its deep flavors.
That dark char on the outside is what is called a Maillard reaction. This reaction of amino acids and sugars gives it its distinctive flavor. The crust is thick, while the crumb has a chewy texture.
It is ideal for dipping. It makes delicious hearty toast for dredging up runny eggs. It is outstanding as the base in Meat Lovers Breakfast Casserole.
Wet Doughs & Scoring
Wet doughs have produced some of the best bread I’ve tasted. I’ve included the picture below so you can learn a few things quickly that took me years in trial and error.
Note how much flour is on that bread from the 2nd rise in the baton. When you work with wet bread dough, you want to create a “flour seal” around the outside to prevent it from sticking to the baton or peel. The secret is to keep it on the outside! Don’t try to incorporate it into the wet dough – keep it as a coating.
Please also note the defined layer of the course corn meal on the peel. This will allow the dough to slide easily from the peel onto the steel in the oven. Yes, some cornmeal will fall onto your oven floor. It wipes right up when the oven cools.
Now let’s talk scoring. For hearty loaves, I use a sharp, thin, serrated knife. Make quick, confident cuts. You can see the pattern below. We score to allow the bread to open purposefully in those areas. If we don’t do this, as the bread rises in the oven, it will open where it wants to and deforms the shape.
Bread baking is an art form. I am in awe of true Artisan Bakers and the loaves they consistently deliver. This recipe is an entry into that world. Learning the ins and outs of bread baking is a process and takes time and effort. If you stay the course, you will be rewarded with beautiful, flavorful bread.
Rustic Country Bread
- ½ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups water lukewarm
- 3 ½ cups bread flour
- ½ cup rye flour
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp salt kosher
- course cornmeal for sprinkling on the peel
- In a medium rising container, mix the flour, yeast, and water to create a stiff, wet dough. Cover and let sit overnight. This can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours - let it come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.½ tsp active dry yeast, 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup water
- Combine all of the dough ingredients except for the salt along with your room-temperature sponge in your stand mixer. Mix on low to incorporate the ingredients. Mix on medium speed (4 o'clock position if using an Ankarsrum mixer) for 15 minutes. Add the salt during the last 3 minute. The dough should be smooth and elastic and pass the windowpane test.1 ½ cups water, 3 ½ cups bread flour, ½ cup rye flour, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp salt
- Transfer the dough to an oiled rising bowl. Cover and let rise until triple in size, at least two hours. If using a proofer, proof at 78 °F
- Lightly flour your surface, and dust your hands and dough with flour. Press the dough into a large disk. Using a large dough scraper, fold each edge toward the center, overlapping the edges slightly. Transfer the dough, smooth side down, to a colander or basket lined with heavily floured muslin. This is a wet dough so ensure to use enough flour so it doesn't stick. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- When the dough begins to rise, adjust the oven rack to the low center position. Place the steel on the rack. On the lower rack, place a heavy-duty pan or skillet. Preheat your oven to 450 °F °F
- Sprinkle course cornmeal over the entire surface of the peel to form a layer to ensure the bread does not stick to the peel. Insert the dough onto the peel. The exposed side of the bread will now become the bottom of the bread.course cornmeal
- With a sharp serrated knife, cut four slashes in the bread to create the pattern, which allows the bread to rise properly when it gets hit with heat.
- Wearing oven-proof mitts, carefully slide the dough from the peel onto the steel. Add two cups of water to the lower pan/skillet to create steam, and quickly shut the oven door. Wait to open the door for 25 minutes. At the 25-minute mark, turn the bread for even browning. Bake until the bread registers 210 degrees and the crust is very dark. Depending on your oven, this will take approximately 35 - 40 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and let the bread rest with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature before slicing. This is a dense bread and takes 2 hours to cool.
De Froid Tip: Building Flavor Profiles
Dips and spreads are popular for good reasons. They can transform simple food into something outstanding in flavor. Bread and butter is a classic match of flavor and texture, which I am a massive fan of. Yet when we try new flavors and textures, we learn how much more bread can be.
Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil are perfect examples of this. First, pouring them onto the plate is fun to see how they stay on their sides. Next, the different notes they present together on the bread are outstanding. The vinegar brings a dark, concentrated intensity, while good quality EVO brings a rich grassy color and peppery flavor. Now top that with the salty nuttiness of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and you have created a flavor profile rich in depth and memorable.
Welcome to Foodie de Froid!
If you love real food, take pleasure in eating, and strive for mouth-watering flavor, you have come to the right place. Here the star of the show IS the food, presenting it in a way that makes it shine.
We feature many appetizers and individual-sized recipes as a purposeful way to experience and share food.
Our mouth reacts to flavors in a transitional way. That first taste creates an exciting experience with the food’s intense flavors, textures, and visual appeal. Yet after the first few bites, our mouths and minds adjust, and that experience deadens.
Thus, the tasting experience! We served 14 consecutive courses at my last tasting party. Each was purposely selected to bring new flavors, textures, and presentations, creating surprises and wow moments throughout the night.
The recipes are documented with ingredients we love. Yet my greatest hope is to have you understand why the recipes work and eventually make them into your personal version using your favorite ingredients and presentations.